I had the pleasure of hosting most of QVC’s Star Trek shows. Leonard Nimoy never appeared on the show as most other cast members did. I always chuckled to myself that he must have been smarter with his money than the others.
Back in the 1990’s, I was in a Los Angeles coffee shop one day, just relaxing after a full day’s press junket for the film Free Willie. Leonard Nimoy walked in with a few other people. After their order they sat down at a table next to me.
I was a kid again (again?). There was Mr. Spock sitting next to me, perhaps the greatest TV/movie character of all time. It opened up the possibility of making a complete and utter fool of myself in an infinite number of ways. If I approached him I surely would have come off like an obsessed fan verging on becoming a stalker. I opted to just sit there and bask in my good fortune at being so close. Maybe there was a cool way to approach him.
“Mr. Nimoy, I don’t want to interrupt you and your party, but I’m your number one fan!” Yeah, that would put me right in the Kathy Bates/Misery category. All I would need is a hammer and wood block to complete the scene. Oh well, the direct approach was no good.
“Excuse me, aren’t you Leonard Nimoy?’ I love your work and even bought most of your albums back in the late 1960’s. I also have your first book, I am Not Spock. I have a couple of your action figures and always play a Vulcan in the role playing games…” If one of his friends didn’t tase me half way through that diatribe, one of them surely would have called L.A.’s finest and had me hauled away for 3 days of observation. Okay, scratch idea number two.
They were finishing up so I had to do something fast. My coffee was cool enough to spill on him without harm. No, that was probably assault and, like the geeky fan approach, would probably land me in jail.
“Hey aren’t you on TV?” I was getting desperate. Scratch that one, too forced.
I was trying not to stare but every time I glanced at his table he looked right at me. He probably figured out I was “one of those fans.”
I could pretend to pass out. Then he would come over. Or maybe not. I might be laying on the filthy floor while he and his guests stepped over me on their way out. One of them would probably say “Someone call 911.” Yeah, plus the floor was really, really dirty.
Oh wait, how about, “Mr. Nimoy, I can make the Vulcan live long and prosper sign without tying my fingers together like William Shatner has to.” Yeah, trash his costar. That’ll endear me to him.
I resigned myself to the same situation I had in New York City in the late 1970’s. I was in a café when John Lennon came in and sat down. Not wanting to come off as a fool back then, I just nodded and smiled at him as I was walking out. He smiled and nodded slightly back. Not much, but I count it as an encounter with a Beatle. I would do the same thing if I got a nod from Leonard Nimoy.
As I was preparing my best “I’m not crazy” smile, he and his party got up. Unexpectedly, Leonard walked over to my table and said, “Didn’t you do a show with Bill Shatner?” He extended his hand. As I shook it I told him that I had along with many other cast members. “My name’s Steve, Mr. Nimoy.”
“Nice to meet you, Steve,” he said. I guess he recognized me during one of my many not-too-covert stares that day. He must have seen the show I did with William Shatner. He asked me to call him Leonard.
“Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to interview you someday.”
“That would be nice,” he said. “Good to meet you, Steve. Do you live here?”
I explained that our studios were in Pennsylvania and that I was in town for the Free Willie press junket. I name dropped Richard Donner, the film’s director, whom I had interviewed earlier that day.
We had a brief conversation about the film and plight of orcas in captivity. He was pleased that, along with Richard Donner, QVC was helping to have Keiko, the orca in the film, released into the wild. He seemed happy that we were doing something positive with our show.
“Thank you, same here, Leonard” is what I think I said. My mind was screaming out a bunch of clever replies and questions that surely would have hastened his retreat. Glad I edited them out. My mind was also cursing me for not having a camera. Although in that time before cell phone selfies, asking for a photo would have come off as pretty intrusive.
We shook hands and then, in a fit of fan desperation, I made the Vulcan “Live long and prosper,” sign. It seemed like an eternity, but he smiled and made the sign in return. Then he and his party walked out. I was surprised that he wasn’t mobbed in the shop or when he walked out but I’m sure celebrity sightings are fairly common and ho-hum in L.A. Plus all the geeks were probably watching Star Trek reruns in their parent’s basements.
It was a brief but great conversation with someone I had admired since the 1960’s. I was a teenager when the original TV series aired. My fellow sci-fi geeks and I would rehash every episode in the schoolyard the day after they were broadcast. Every time we found out something different about Spock, his telepathy, strength, parents, etc, it was a true epiphany to us. Hey, the girls found us repulsive so it was something. Not second base, but something. The fact that Mr. Spock only got laid once every seven years gave us hope.
We sold some signed memorabilia from Leonard on QVC but he never appeared live. You will be missed Leonard Nimoy. You portrayed Mr. Spock most elegantly for all those decades. Rest in peace.
(All posts ©2015 – No portion of this text may be copied and/or pasted elsewhere without written permission of the author.)